Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /data/15/1/87/159/1413322/user/1517526/htdocs/blog/wp-settings.php on line 468

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /data/15/1/87/159/1413322/user/1517526/htdocs/blog/wp-settings.php on line 483

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /data/15/1/87/159/1413322/user/1517526/htdocs/blog/wp-settings.php on line 490

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /data/15/1/87/159/1413322/user/1517526/htdocs/blog/wp-settings.php on line 526

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /data/15/1/87/159/1413322/user/1517526/htdocs/blog/wp-includes/cache.php on line 103

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /data/15/1/87/159/1413322/user/1517526/htdocs/blog/wp-includes/query.php on line 21

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /data/15/1/87/159/1413322/user/1517526/htdocs/blog/wp-includes/theme.php on line 618
75 Green Businesses » Green Building

Archive for the ‘Green Building’ Category

Deconstruction Training Leads to Green Collar Jobs and Enhances Green Building

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

This post is courtesy of Ted Reiff, President of The ReUse People of America

 

The ReUse People of America (TRP), a nonprofit 501(c)3, has launched two deconstruction training programs, both designed to teach the art and science of deconstruction and building-materials salvage. Both trainings are conducted by The ReUse Institute (TRI), the training, project-management and consulting arm of TRP.

 

Green-collar Jobs Program

The first program is designed to meet the growing demand for green-collar jobs. It is designed for unemployed and underemployed workers. To date, two target populations have been served by this program: youths between the ages of 17 and 24 and ex-offenders seeking societal and workforce re-entry skills. Typically both of these groups have minimal knowledge of the opportunities available in the construction industry.

 

Students learn:

·         The philosophy and objectives of building-materials reuse

·         Categories of materials suitable for reuse

·         Jobsite safety guidelines and work rules

·         Proper use of the tools required in construction/deconstruction

·         Methodologies for removing building components while preserving their value

·         Shipping and handling guidelines and techniques

·         Crew-chief skills (extra session for students exhibiting leadership potential)

 

Contractor Program

The second program is for building, remodeling and demolition contractors wanting to adopt green-building practices in order to answer increasing consumer demand, reduce landfill fees, and take advantage of the burgeoning market for salvaged building materials. Contractor training covers all categories of salvageable materials, special deconstruction-industry tools, removal methodologies, shipping and handling guidelines, and successful bidding tips and procedures.

 

TRI is offering the contractor training on October 22-23 in Los Angeles. To register complete the PDF registration form here.

 

Success Stories

  A youth-employment agency in California whose students received green-collar training earns funds for additional agency programs by deploying trained deconstruction crews to take down local buildings. Participating youth have acquired valuable entry-level construction skills.

  Dozens of TRI-trained contractors throughout the U.S. now employ hundreds of trained deconstruction workers and are keeping thousands of tons of reusable materials out of landfills.

  Twenty trained contractors in a small Midwest city are mobilizing to deconstruct dozens of buildings for flood-control purposes.

 

TRP is eager to partner with cities and local organizations that wish to train constituents for jobs in the green-building industry and will assist graduating students to find full-time employment. For more information visit www.TheReUsePeople.org or call Ted Reiff at 510.383.1983, ext. 102.

The Nation’s Chief Sustainability Officer

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

With Obama’s inauguration just a few days away, the economy is still at the top of the agenda, but this does not mean that environmental initiatives are forgotten.  With just a few days left before he takes office Obama toured the Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Company in Ohio that makes parts for wind turbines and gave a speech there about the economy.   He talked about the latest economic stimulus package being proposed, hoping to save or create 3-4 million jobs.  Many of these jobs are tied to expanded use of renewable energy, a long term investment in both the economy and the environment. 

 

The $850 billion economic stimulus plan, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, includes support for renewable energy, and energy efficiency.  The details of the plan being unveiled include $20 billion in incentives for a variety of forms of renewable energy, and $54 billion to improve the grid and to invest in energy efficiency in buildings, the electrical grid, and transportation.  In addition to solar and wind, the plan includes incentives for a broad range of other forms of renewable energy such as waste to energy, methane from landfills, and geothermal energy.

 

President-Elect Obama said in his speech:

 

“That’s why, as part of our Recovery and Reinvestment plan, we’re committing to double the production of renewable energy in the next three years, and to modernize more than 75% of federal buildings and improve the energy efficiency of two million American homes.

 

In the process, we’ll put nearly half a million people to work building wind turbines and solar panels; constructing fuel-efficient cars and buildings; and developing the new energy technologies that will lead to new jobs, more savings, and a cleaner, safer planet in the bargain.”

 

This sounds like a big leap in the right direction, and it’s about time.  We have some leaping to do. 

 

We’ve had a great deal of grass roots action on the green front, with people, local and state governments taking the lead in the absence of environmental leadership at the US Government level.  This might be changing.  While the grass roots efforts are a wonderful start, an effective response to the problems we face requires a coordinated effort at the highest level, with strong leadership.  Many businesses these days are hiring Chief Sustainability Officers, the Chief Green.  Obama might just be our next Chief Green for the US, providing national leadership on both economic and environmental recovery.

 

During the presidential campaign (remember the campaign?), Thomas Friedman remarked that he was less concerned if we have the first black president, or the first woman president, than if we have the first green president.   The show’s not over yet, and hasn’t even started but the previews look good.  Let’s keep the green grass roots growing, and do what we can to support this kind of bold national action that moves us forward toward a brighter future.

Talking about Green Opportunities with Eric Corey Freed, Organic Architect

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Eric Corey Freed

Eric Corey Freed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They say that every cloud has a silver lining.  In the case of the cloud hanging over the building industry it seems to have a green one.  The building industry has been at the epicenter of the housing crisis, the credit crunch, and the recession, all rolled into one.  Housing starts have plummeted to record lows, but through all of this, the green building movement has kept on growing.

 

 

As principal of organicARCHITECT in San Francisco, Eric Corey Freed is a well known and highly-regarded green architect, helping the green building movement in its quest to change our buildings to be part of a more sustainable world.  Through his speaking, design work, consulting, and educational work he reaches out to the broad and growing green building community.  He is the author of Green Building and Remodeling for Dummies, and working on two books, Sustainable Schools, and Green Home Green Pockets, both coming out at the end of 2009.  I recently spoke with Eric about the opportunities in green building and the rest of the green economy.

 

While nobody is immune from our economic turmoil, green building seems to be doing relatively well.  “There have been statistics that while building was down in 2008 green building was up 30%, although this does not include the fourth quarter,” said Freed.  “Everything is slow lately, but specific, different areas have picked up.  For example, building owners who are looking to stand out in the market are turning to greening buildings.  There’s a pick up in the business for large commercial projects where green building is a good differentiator to stand out in a tough market.”

 

While green building is holding up well, the economic situation has had an impact, changing the features people look for in buildings.  “The downturn forces people to rethink priorities,” said Freed.  “I’ve seen a definite transition from green finishes which might be seen as a luxury to saving energy and saving water.”  The continued strength in green building can be attributed to the value it provides as a long term trend and not a fad. “We estimate that on average it costs about $4 per square foot to get LEED certified, but it pays for itself at a rate of $67 per square foot including energy saved, according to the US Green Building Council,” said Freed. “In times like these people bear down, turning to options like solar panels where there is an economic benefit.  We’ll see a boom in companies like Sustainable Spaces that address energy efficiency in buildings, and we’ll see businesses like this around the country.  Any contractor or home inspector could make this transition to the green collar economy.”

 

The green building movement creates opportunities for a variety of workers and businesses.  “I would say that there are opportunities for any trade that is loosely connected to energy or utilities (including water or sewer), whether manual, blue collar work, companies that are leasing solar equipment, or Joe the green plumber,” Freed said.  “The more that green building grows, the more pressure and opportunity there is for these business, but they have to change.  They have to change what they do, change their marketing, and change their priorities.”

 

Economics have a big impact on decisions and priorities, as we have seen in the wild swing in the price of gas.  “When gas was $4 a gallon, businesses had to change, and people were choosing smaller cars and smarter driving habits,” said Freed.  “The same goes for electricity.  When we have a carbon tax, when the cost of electricity goes up from 12 cents to 24 cents a kilowatt-hours, everyone will have to address energy efficiency.  The important thing is that it’s not from an abstract carbon footprint perspective, but from showing a tangible impact on the bottom line.”

 

There is a huge opportunity for businesses that improve the energy efficiency in millions of existing buildings in the US, helping to save money now and save resources.  To start a business improving the energy efficiency of buildings, some specific certifications are needed but they can be readily achieved.  “The main certification is Energy Star HERS rating,” said Freed.  “HERS raters are trained and certified in energy efficiency and building.  You have to take a class and take a test, very similar to home inspectors.”

 

These new business opportunities are part of the rising green collar economy, providing good jobs and businesses for those displaced from older, greyer, industries.  In addition to those who work on buildings, there are a wealth of opportunities for related businesses such as marketing, billing, web design firms, education, and other essential services.  “Along with the surge in companies that are part of the green economy there will be an equal surge in companies like these that are fluent in the language of sustainability, such as marketing companies that know how to speak to consumers about these things,” said Freed.

 

Beyond the first and second wave of green businesses, there will be a third wave, the teachers, Freed predicts.  “The first wave is the people doing the hands on work in the field with green collar jobs in renewable energy or green building,” said Freed.  “The second is the people doing the marketing, websites, accounting, hiring, and whatever else businesses need behind the scenes.  The third wave is teaching, at all levels.  We need people that take all of this information and make it available in an easy way for all sorts of green building topics, and other sustainable business areas.  We need good teachers.”

 

If you are thinking about getting involved by starting a green business, what should you keep in mind?  Freed advices green entrepreneurs to be humble.   “There is nothing wrong with saying we know we’re not perfect.  You can say ‘These are the things we’re doing, and here’s what we want to do that we haven’t figured out yet,” but not making broad claims about being green.  Look at the most admired companies working on sustainability, like Interface.  Ray Anderson will tell you all the things he’s doing wrong, things he is still figuring out.  Be humble and honest.”

 

“When somebody comes out and says we’re a green company, and its one green product, then they can really get in trouble with consumers.  They would be better to lay it out, to be honest, and open, to say, ‘Well, we’ve only got one green shoe today, but here is where the problems are, and we’ll keep working on it.’  Businesses don’t like it a lot of times, but there’s nothing wrong with saying ‘We don’t know how to do that yet.’”

 

Building a green business is not just a destination, but an ongoing journey.  “These things take time,” said Freed.  “It doesn’t happen overnight, but plant these seeds now and it will happen.  The more seeds you plant, the better, as long as they are the right seeds to help create the change.”  It sounds like there is plenty of room still for entrepreneurs to plant seeds today for the green businesses of tomorrow.